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Intel Releases USB 3.0 Controller Interface Spec 374

hardsky submitted thrilling news about everyone's favorite interconnect cable by saying "USB 3.0 is set to deliver data-transfer speeds of up to 5Gb/s, initially over tweaked connectors and wiring and, later, over optical links."
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Intel Releases USB 3.0 Controller Interface Spec

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  • Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:19AM (#24598771) Journal

    Will we ever see a storage medium that can move data that fast?

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heffrey ( 229704 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:27AM (#24598935)

    Most UBB connectors have a USB symbol on one side which means (this side up). I'd never really thought about this until someone gave me an iPod. I then found that I was forever struggling to get the connector in.

    What I concluded was happening was:

    1. I'd sub-consciously worked out that the connector is inserted USB symbol up.
    2. The Apple USB connector has the USB symbol on, but on the other side it has an Apple symbol.
    3. My sub-conscious was in fact not distinguishing between USB symbol and Apple symbol. Instead the logic was something like, "that side has a symbol on, I'll put it facing upwards".

    I'm quite sure that the "symbol faces up" convention is a part of the USB spec. I never needed to know this because my brain naturally worked it out without it ever entering my consciousness. This is a truly wonderful piece of human interface design and yet those morons from Apple go and break it with an inane piece of branding. Way to go Apple. Anyone who ever thinks that Apple cares about usability should think again.

  • Re:Come On (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:37AM (#24599115)
    While that is true, I showed that to my GF who is from Hong Kong and knows English as a second language, cannot do it at all, but she can read perfectly and a bit faster than me
  • by Sleen ( 73855 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:39AM (#24599139)

    Will this really be faster or will it just be bigger chunks? Also, will this spec require more cpu overhead? My interest is not for SLR and video cams, but for live audio and instruments where speed, or latency is an issue. USB usually requires more cpu, is prone to more contention and overall offers lower quality for realtime audio processing. And why do people say its faster or higher speed? Maybe your transfers don't take as long, but I am willing to bet that small chunks won't see any benefit.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:50AM (#24599311)

    I've not had that, though I have managed to ruin a lead and one of the ports on my desktop; I had something plugged in and caught the lead as I walked past. The plug ripped out of the port, leaving that internal bit in the port.

    Oh well, I had plenty of other leads and ports...

  • Re:Come On (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:52AM (#24599355) Homepage

    it might be because the characters aren't normal for her, since english is my second language and it's not a problem at all, but I use the same set of letters.

  • Re:Embossing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mattsson ( 105422 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:53AM (#24599373) Journal

    The problem is that the host-connector has no markings, and sometimes "up" might be either left, right, up or down relative the up of the device itself.

    What they should have done, from the beginning of USB, was to have the connector truly symmetric, so that you could plug it in either way.

  • eSATA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amcdiarmid ( 856796 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .mraidcma.> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:02AM (#24599507) Journal

    I'm certain that USB3 will be "supposed to be" backward with USB 1; 1.1; 2, but will likely only be backwards compatible with 2. Right now, a Hard disk cannot keep up with eSATA at 1.5 Gb/s, nevermind eSATA at 3Gb/s. For the past year or so, many of us have been buying $15 eSATA cards for our old computers, and new computers with eSATA built in. Considering that external HD cases with eSATA connectors cost only about $16 (something with 4 eggs, at Newegg) what is the benefit?

    Possible benefits would be increased transfer speed to peripheral devices, but can we reasonably expect devices that fast by then? Personally, I would hope that 10Gb/s ethernet would come down in price by then. The only real benefit I see with the proposed USB3 is something for a processor core to do....


    PS: I will give a possible something to do mention to Hard Disk (Solid-State) video recorders... but they could use eSATA as well & still be saturated..

  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:11AM (#24599635)
    Why do we need USB 3? The reason for my question is e-SATA. Why not pump more into development of devices that run on that interface instead of USB?
  • Re:Embossing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by josecanuc ( 91 ) * on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#24599875) Homepage Journal

    Maybe not symmetric, but "genderless". See Anderson PowerPole connectors: []

    No male/female parts, and there's only one way it will fit. Doesn't solve the problem of needing to line up the "tops" of each half of the connection.

    It is possible, however, to have a plug/socket set that allows you to plug it in "up" or "down". You just need double the number of contacts as signals and put all your signals on one half of the plug and wire each signal wire in the socket to two contacts on the socket, in a mirrored configuration. Waste of space, but orientation is irrelevant.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chemisus ( 920383 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#24599877)
    what are you talking about?? you obviously dont have one of these []
  • Re:Come On (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:42AM (#24600157)

    The problem is that build and built are both words and so a computer spell checker can't tell if you get them mixed up.

    Actually, I can't tell if someone else gets them mixed up unless I force myself - the bizarre thing about reading is that if you're reading for meaning rather than spelling, errors like this get 'error corrected' away at some level beneath the conscious one, particularly if you're reading stuff on the internet where most people are pretty sloppy.

    I suppose 'Grammar Nazis' just never learn this skill.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:42AM (#24600161)

    There is a USB standards group, of which Intel has historically been the driving force. The various USB logos are trademarks of that group, so any "renegade" claiming to have USB 4.0 would be committing a trademark infringement if they tried to decorate it using recognized symbols and logos.

    USB remains one of the great industry success stories, designed by Intel and then licensed out at extremely low prices with a very inclusive policy. USB gained as much traction as it did because Apple used to insist on upwards of $1 in royalties per chip implementing Firewire, on top of the difficulty of implementing Firewire in the first place. The margins on peripheral chipsets are so low that there was no way to manufacture cheap Firewire devices at those prices. They still want too much in royalties even today, which is why budget motherboards never include Firewire, and no low-end devices connect using Firewire. Ever seen a Firewire flash drive?

    Meanwhile Intel understands the concept of a truly mass market, and designed a simpler standard that uses less silicon to implement and less money for permission to implement. The price is higher CPU usage, since USB chips don't do very much work. Then Intel was clever enough to grab a golden opportunity and create a higher speed extension to the standard that suddenly brought it squarely in contention with Firewire, while being totally backwards compatible. Firewire answered, with Firewire 400, but without USB pushing them, they probably wouldn't have bothered to create a higher speed Firewire. Now Firewire 800 is on its way out, but going up against USB 3 at up to 5X the speed, while still having liberal licensing terms. Is it any wonder that camcorder manufacturers are jumping ship and abandoning Firewire?

  • Re:Come On (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:57AM (#24600421)

    I once dated a Chinese girl in the UK who'd arrived from China and learned English very quickly, in two years. I found out that just after she woke up she had great difficulty speaking English. But once she was awake she spoke it very fluently, though it was clear that it wasn't her native language because she never used chavisms like slightly thuggish English people I knew then would pepper their sentences with. It's like her English translator software was an application rather than part of her 'OS' and thus booted a bit late.

    I've read that there's some strange process where you go from thinking in your native language and translating it to thinking in a foreign language. Personally, I've never got past the stage where I can buy stuff in shops in (Swedish, used to be able to do it in French at school). I doubt I'll ever get to the point where I'm properly bilingual. Let alone in a language like Chinese.

    Mind you if your native language is not English you're exposed to English from a very early age, so I think non English speakers have an advantage. Certainly if I were Swedish or Chinese I would have made sure I learned English.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Big Boss ( 7354 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @12:49PM (#24601287)

    3 things i hope they address:

    * it's not UNIVERSAL serial bus if the other end of the cable is allowed to be proprietary. nightmare when travelling and you've forgotten your cable. it's never in the public interest to create a hidden cost (expensive proprietary cables)

    +1! I HATE proprietary cables. Use the damn standards. THAT MEANS YOU APPLE! I don't care if they ALSO have a non-standard connector, but charging and data should be available via USB Mini-B (or the new micro-B if your device is REALLY small).

  • Re:Embossing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rwiggers ( 1206310 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @12:58PM (#24601439)
    You don't even need two sets of contacts, as it can be done electronically. Anyway, the biggest objective on usb development was to make is very cheap on the device side, so anything that adds cost would be dumped very fast. Remember it had some very cheap competitors for the same functionality that the initial proposal had: RS-232, PS/2... And the initial proposal was really for simplistic things like keyboard, mice and joysticks plus some other things. When it came to more complex applications, it was competing with IEEE1394 (firewire), which is a much better protocol for this. But then, the USB spec was free, the IEEE1394 costs a bunch of money. USB is dead simple at the device end, in IEEE1394 everyone can be a host and it's somewhat complicated. And the list goes on.
  • by dontmakemethink ( 1186169 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @01:08PM (#24601593)

    I believe that firewire is peer to peer, while USB is master/slave. In theory that means that you can connect any two firewire-capable devices and have them talk to each other, which is not possible with USB (you need a hub). I've never actually tried that though, and so cannot personally confirm it.

    The iPod was originally designed to be able to share files by simply connecting two iPods. Once the iTunes possibility presented itself, it was one of the first things to be disabled to satisfy record label interests, along with the ability to record audio.

  • Re:Come On (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thomasje ( 709120 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @01:24PM (#24601859)
    English is my third language, and I can read it with no problem. My first two languages are Dutch and German, FWIW.
    I think this is pretty interesting. I'm going to write a little program to randomize text in this manner, and then I'll feed some ebooks through it. I wonder how readable chemistry texts will be after this kind of treatment. :-)
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @02:40PM (#24603171) Homepage Journal

    I once worked with a guy who just broke things. We'd have the same laptop, and after about three months his had cracks in the case, missing keys, and half-torn out power connector. Mine would be pristine after over a year and a half, except the paint on the keycaps would be worn off.

    The guy wasn't dumb or irresponsible, or even clumsy. He was just rough with machines.

    Some people have a lighter touch with machines than others. My car is a standard, and when my wife drives it I wince every time she shifts and the transmission makes a "kerr-lunk" noise. When it's time shift she just steps on the clutch and shoves the shifter from one position to another. She doesn't take that tiny fraction of an instant to feel that point where the gears will mesh smoothly and silently or bother to get the engine RPMS just right.

    It's not that our value systems are different or anything like that; we both regard the car as a way to get from point A to point B and other than that just an inconvenience. It's that she doesn't have that kind of unconscious awareness of what the car is up to that most drivers do.

    Connectors of all sorts are sources of trouble in the real world. I've worked on mobile applications, and you wouldn't believe the difference in longevity of PDAs with a cradle and those that have to be plugged into a cable. I've seen tons of problems with proprietary connectors on cell phones. I've seen CF card slots torn off their PCBs by vigorous card insertion. Now I could probably insert a CF card ten times a day for ten years straight and never once do anything like that, but there are plenty of people who will do this, reliably, within a hundred insertions or so.

    Connectors ought to be completely bulletproof and foolproof, simple to connect and disconnect, tolerant of rough or sloppy connection or disconnection, tolerant of accidental disconnection (as when a cable is snagged), but stay securely connected otherwise, and work consistently for thousands and thousands of connections and disconnections. Oh, yes, and if it goes on the end of the cable, a large person should be able to step on it without damaging it. That's a tall order, and no connector is perfect, but many connectors, particularly proprietary connectors, are truly awful.

    Motorola for years on some of their phones had a connector that had teeny tiny little spring clips that were supposed to mate with teeny tiny little holes (if I recall) on the receptacle. This was,I suppose, supposed to give the connectors a positive lock. That was a stupid idea unless the receptacle is built like a piece of climbing equipment, but what was worse was that it was mushy and didn't give any tactile or auditory feedback. So people just shoved the cables in and yanked them out. Most of the cables I saw had the little spring clips broken off or bent after a month or two. Many of the phones had damaged receptacles and seriously bent or even ripped out connectors weren't unheard of -- from one of those rare occasions when the connectors did lock together.

    The six pin firewire and full size USB "B" (device end) connectors are pretty good. The four pin Firewire and full size USB "A" (master end) connectors are middling-lousy. The mini-USB connectors on some PDAs and phone are reasonable, and a huge improvement over some of the proprietary connectors they often replace. I don't know about the USB EMU type connectors.

    Barrel type power connectors are usually pretty good, although in some cases they are susceptible to causing equipment damage during accidental disconnect (the classic foot tangled in the power cord scenario). Some of them are fine, others tend to take a bit of the device with them when they go. There really ought to be a break away plug design where you plug a small flexible extension into things like laptops, unless the cord and connectors are designed to survive a strong sideways tug.

    In any case, it's too damned bad that the type A connector is being kept. It's not the worst connector in common use. It's probably OK to plug your printer into your PC once and leave it there. But it's too fragile (both the male and female) for field use where connections are made frequently.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson